Searching for an immortal sword.
The Dark Quest Part One
By Robert Rumery
Edited by Lori Safranek
Cover Design by Jeffrey Kosh
The Dark Lord had escaped across the great desert. The plains were rough and the sun beat down against his neck. The village had stood no chance in surviving. If they had just given him what he wanted, they wouldn't have been slaughtered. People were so stupid nowadays, the Dark Lord mused. Always taking things for granted.
That didn't matter to him. He had gone to that village for one reason—to obtain the map hidden there. If the villagers had not decided to fight, he would not have had to kill them. It was a pity, really. But he would have that map.
The map was key for what he was looking for. His mortal body was getting weak, aging. He had lived thousands of years. He did this by jumping from one body to the next. When somebody was killed, he could jump into their body and make it live again. In a way, he was immortal. Unfortunately, the bodies he took over were never immortal. That had started to annoy him. He has seen empires fall and watched kings and queens die off. It was time for him to take his place in the world. It was time for him to take his place among the gods.
To become a god, he needed to become immortal. His plan for achieving immortality lay with a legendary sword. This legendary sword had power beyond power. No mortal could wield it. Well, no, normal mortal could wield it. It wasn't like the legendary Excalibur. Man didn’t make this weapon. It was a blade forged by the gods themselves and whoever wielded this blade would become a god himself. The sword was called Immortalus, The Immortal Soul.
People in Bathum were talking about the slaughter of a nearby village. The only reason the village had been constructed was to ward off people looking for the Demon's temple. It had no name and the temple had no name. Neither was meant to be found. Legend had it that a sword could be found within this temple. No one was brave or stupid enough to try and see if it was true. Bathum was 60 miles due east of the now destroyed, unnamed village. Word spreads very quickly. Especially when you’re listening for news. Especially, when you were a warrior.
* * * *
A man was sitting by a grinding wheel inside a wooden shed. His sword blade lay across his lap. The grinding wheel had stopped. He was dressed in nothing but rags. What looked like armor was laid out behind the grinding wheel on a table. He looked to be in deep thought and seemed to be drifting off into slumber. Wounds crisscrossed his torso, sore and angry. The blood had dried up but the wounds still needed tending. He had just returned from battle.
The battle had been fierce and he’d barely survived. The fighting had been insane. If it had not been for his sword fighting skill, he might have been dead. He was waited for a healer to come and care for him. He couldn't be seen like this. That is why he had made this shed his resting place. He was a proud warrior and he couldn't let anyone know that he was wounded.
He was from the village of Bathum. He had stopped here on his way back to his village. He was bleeding too much to continue on. He knew the healer, a young maiden, would tend his wounds and get him in shape for the last leg of his journey home.
“Woman, hurry up,” the warrior muttered under his breath. He wasn't fully incapacitated, but he was still in a bit of pain. He grabbed his right shoulder. He needed to collect that bounty back in his town, so he could feed himself. Being injured like this wasn't good for him. Being injured period, that wasn't good. Pain was still shooting throughout his body. It would stop for a few minutes and it would start right back up.
“Damn it,” he said, thing back to the battle. He should have thought this out a little better. Damn him.
Juliana was the current healer in the village of Florin where the warrior waited. She walked from her house carrying a bag full of things, mostly medical supplies. She was used to the wounded warriors that come around these parts. They came here because she was the only one that knew how to heal and patch up people. Those who called themselves doctors generally weren’t as good as she was. She wasn't really trying to toot her own horn though. This was her life and healing was her calling.
Why did people fight so much? She wondered about it as she briskly walked toward the shed. She shook her head and continued on her way, knowing she would never find the answer to her question. She knew where this man would be. This man had sought her services before. She knew when he would was on his way to Florin, because a black crow always brought her the message of his arrival. She had nicknamed the warrior “The Black Crow.” She didn't know his real name. She could hear the birds chirping and she passed a few people and waved to them. She had a smile on her face. She continued to walk.
She approached the shed where he always waited for her. She pushed the door open. Her eyes went wide when she saw him. His wounds were shocking, worse than they had been in a long time. What kind of trouble had he got into this time? She noticed the armor lying behind of him. It looked nearly destroyed. Whatever this man had been fighting, it looked like it got the better of him.
She approached him. When she got near him, she placed her hands on his shoulders and studied his wounds. Such madness. She didn’t understand why he fought. Was it pride? Money? Destroying your body like this wasn't worth it. Still, she knew the warrior was proud of his fighting abilities and would never change.
“Black Crow, what have you done to yourself now?” Juliana asked.
“Fix me up, woman, like you always do,” he said, his voice shaking slightly.
Juliana didn't waste time. She quickly began cleaning up his wounds. They were deep and must be painful. She didn't know where he had come from. All she knew was that he was here and he needed her help.
She used some of her healing magic to close up a few of the minor wounds. She dug supplies out of her bag and bandaged him up. When she was done, the top of his torso was covered with bandages. She tried to heal up his shoulder a bit but she didn't think she was doing any help to that.
Juliana wondered how he could survive like this. Was the money really that good? From what she knew of him, he was a warrior who would kill for money. She wondered if he'd ever take a job against her village. She would hope he wouldn't.
Truth be told, it was kind of nice to have him around. She didn’t have a man of her own to patch up, except for maybe her brother, Jules. His wounds came from being stupid and not because he was a warrior. This man was a warrior. Her mind wandered. What kind of person was he when he wasn't out on the battlefield? Was he nice? Could he be a good lover? She blushed lightly at that thought. She shouldn't be thinking like that, but her hands on his body brought strange feelings and thoughts to her mind.
She was almost done. She used more of her white magic to make most of the other wounds heal. She was also trying to make his muscles relax. He was really tense. She liked the feel of her hands on his body. That was something she shouldn't really be thinking about right now. The only thing that should be on her mind was healing him.
She finished healing him. She didn't ask him for money. He always left something behind for her. She assumed he liked to keep his actions private. She didn't really care about money. She just had herself to feed.
“Woman, you do good work,” he had said, his dark blue eyes connected with her eyes.
What could this woman be thinking about? He chuckled softly. Her hands lingered on his skin. Could she enjoy the feel on his body? Flustered by the thought, he stood up and his sword fell off of his lap and hit the floor. It made a thud when it hit the ground.
He looked down at his body and took note of the rags he wore. He turned his back to the woman and stripped off the rags he had on. Digging in his saddlebags, he found a pair of cloth pants, a pair of black leather boots and a black cotton shirt. He dressed quickly and glanced over towards his armor.
The thing he had fought had been strong. He suspected it wasn’t from this world. It knew too many magic spells. It had a body of a man, the strength of a beast. Strangest of all, it had the tail of a lizard. Had the creature been cursed or had it come from another world?
He had somehow found a way to slay the beast he had been fighting. He glanced around looking for his shield, then remembered it had been shattered in battle. It had been made of the strongest metal that Bathum had to offer. He needed to find a way to fight better or find better metals to make weapons out of. He had noticed that the art of magic was becoming more popular. Maybe he should seek out a mage to teach him how to use magic. It might be the only way he would be able to come out of these battles in better shape. The battlefield was a dangerous place and even a warrior of Cro’s ability needed to adapt and learn. Every advantage was needed.
Battles and fighting had been escalating a lot more quickly in his region. What was happening in Tactum? Weird stories were being told lately, tales about the coming of the end of the world. Could this really be the end? Or were people talking like always, assuming the worst.
Impatiently, he realized he couldn't really think in a situation like this. He needed to get back to Bathum. He needed to think about the situation. He wondered if the creature he had slain was a lone being or were more like him lurking about? He had already heard talk of a mass slaying in another village. The whole village slaughtered for a map, he had heard. The killer just killed the villagers without telling them why he needed the map.
“I take it that's as close to a thank you that I'm going to get from you,” Juliana said as she looked over towards the warrior.
“Very well, Black Crow.” Juliana added and sighed.
“Black Crow? Why the hell do you call me that?” He asked as he looked over towards the woman.
“You always send a black crow to me when you are injured, “ Juliana said. She blinked slightly. “Is that not your name?”
“No,” he said as he shook his head. “It's Cro, just Cro.”
Cro of Bathum. That was his title. He was a warrior. He was in his second decade but he felt much older. He bent over and picked up his sword. He walked to where his armor was and took his sheath. He put his sheath on his back and then he put his sword in it.
His stomach growled and he realized how hungry he was. This was no time to think about food, but he needed fuel to finish his journey.
“You wouldn't happen to have any food in that bag of yours, would you?” Cro asked as he looked over towards Juliana.
“No.” Juliana said as she shook her head. “I could go bring you back some.”
“If you wish to. I'll be here,” Cro said, his eyes on Juliana. He would not ask for a favor, but if she chose to feed him, he would accept.
“I will,” Juliana said. She packed up her things and disappeared out the door.
* * * *
Cain was the black smith in the village of Florin. He was an old and wise man. His short hair was silver. Old age had caught up with him. When he was younger, he had been quite the warrior. He sat outside of his house in a wooden chair, smoking an old pipe. He puffed on the pipe. The smoke circled around his head. He blew some of the old smoke out. He watched the people pass by his house. He waved to them.
In his old age, he had became calmer. Calmer than his twin brother, he knew that much. The kids always liked to come and see Cain. They loved hearing his glorious stories of being a member of the Florin Army. When the army was still young, Cain had been a warrior indeed.
The children loved the tales. He never had any children or grandchildren of his own but he just loved to spin stories and the young proved a rapt audience. Cain was the local storyteller. The kids were the future. He knew that. That is why he adored them so much.
The children would grow up and become adults. Each of them would walk different paths. One could walk the path of the hero and the other could walk the path of the demon. Few chose to walk the path of the demon, but it happened sometimes. Questing for power and dominance could lead one to walk the path of the demon.
Cain had not always been on the path he was currently on. A few times in his life his path strayed from good to bad. Things happen during a warrior’s life and sometimes it changes a person. It changes what is important to him, even changes his perception of right and wrong.
In Cain’s opinion, something was wrong with the world today. Fighting was more frequent and much fiercer than before. He sensed something wrong, but could not point to any one thing. Traffic in and through Florin had increased. A normally quiet village, Florin usually didn't attract anyone from the outside world, except for the rare traveler or someone seeking Juliana for her healing powers.
Cain brooded on the matter. He was certain something was in the air. He wondered if it was time to form the Florin Army once again? The army has not been used in quite some time. Should the people in this village prepare to make a stand again?
What puzzled Cain was why? Why was this happening? Could there be a new threat to his people, a threat that they didn't know about? Too much thinking would make one person go insane, he thought with exasperation. Maybe he worried about nothing, or maybe it was just some odd coincidence.
The stories spread like wildfires about the man that had slaughtered a whole village, all for a map. Cain shook his head. He had killed every person in the village for a map. That map had to be pretty important. What secrets did it hold?
Cro wondered where that woman had gone. She was supposed to be going to get food.His stomach was growling. Could something have happened to her? He wasn't used to worrying about people. It was just he was hungry and she was supposed to be going and getting food.
He needed to get out of this shed. It was getting to be a bit musty and it was getting to him. He walked over to the door and pushed it open. It slowly swung open. His eyes had to adjust to the light after the darkness of the shed. It had been barely light enough so that woman could see what she was doing.
He followed a stone path leading from the shed back to the town. He never really remembered how he got here. He would be at the end of a battle and the next thing he knew, he was in Florin, being tended by the healer.
He looked down at the stone path and noticed droplets of blood on them. Could that be his own blood or from someone else? He needed to keep his guard up. As he followed the stone path, it brought him into the main area of the village. He passed a few wooden houses as well as a butcher's shop and a blacksmith shop. He caught some of the locals looking at him. He was used to the stares, which he assumed was due to his large size.
Could it be that this place had been at peace for so long that the people in the village had forgot what a warrior looked like? His stomach rumbled loudly. Where had that woman wandered off to? He sighed softly and started to walk around a little bit. It looked like your average village. He watched a few kids run past him. It looked like they were playing.
He smirked softly. He wished he could be that carefree again. In times like this, you couldn't be carefree. He though again of how he needed to find out more about that beast he had fought.
The world had become a dark and scary place. Order had fled and much was in chaos. That didn't bother him at the least. He watched more kids race past him. They would learn the hard way someday. Now they were just helpless children. He continued to walk. A few of the townsfolk looked over towards him. They would look away once he looked at them.
“Mister!” a kid said, tugging on his leggings.
“Huh?” Cro grunted, looking down at the boy.
“Is it true that you killed a huge beast all by yourself?” the kid asked, his eyes wide.
“Yeah,” Cro said, nodding his head.
“That is so cool!” the kid shouted. He saluted Cro and ran off giggling and laughing with his friends.
Kaiser had just returned to the village of Bathum. He had to obtain supplies in another village. He had the supplies in a sack slung over his right shoulder. As he walked back into the village, everyone in the village greeted him. Bathum was bustling with activity today. He wondered where his son could be. Had he came back from the mission or was he somewhere resting? He didn't really know. His son was a brave warrior and his parents could only wait for his return.
Right now, Kaiser needed to get back to his loving wife and their other child. He hoped his warrior son was not in trouble. He chuckled to himself softly. Cro in trouble? Never. He had taught his son better than that.
His wife Mayumi did like to mother Cro a bit, although Cro rarely allowed it. He had always had a lone wolf attitude; so much like his father it was uncanny. He just hoped his son was all right. He would stop worrying when his boy finally made it back to the village. He knew his son well. Cro was always pushing himself to make himself stronger. Sometimes he wondered why Cro wanted such strength. Had something happened that he wasn't aware about? Or was this the path of the warrior nowadays?
Kaiser kept on walking and waving to the other members of the village. He reached his home and walked into the house. The smell of pork roasting filled his nostrils. It was his favorite meal and his mouth watered. He took the sack off of his back and dropped it on the wooden table in the center of the kitchen. He opened it up. The sack held some food and a new carving block.
He liked going out for supplies because it got him out of the house and time to see other people as well. He left the carving block on the table. He put the vegetables in a cool place so they wouldn't go bad.
Mayumi had been resting in the other room, reading a book, when she heard a noise in the kitchen. She put aside her book and moved into the kitchen. She smiled when she saw that Kaiser had returned. He had been gone for only a few hours. She didn't like it when he had to go on long journeys. She loved his companionship and didn't really like being left alone with their son. Not that the baby required a lot of attention, as he mostly slept at this age. It was just too lonely for her.
She knew how much Kaiser liked going out on his little quests for food and goods. It was probably his way of trying to relive his glory days. Men and their glory days. She knew that the villagers admired her husband and paid him much attention, which the old warrior thrived on. She chuckled to herself and walked over to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek.
“Welcome back, honey. You didn't see our son, did you?” she asked Kaiser.
“No, don’t fret though. That boy will come home when he's done,” Kaiser added, with a warm smile for his lover. He had missed her as well and embraced her.
“So when's that pig done? I'm starving!” Kaiser said, with a smile.
“You’re always hungry,” she said, rolling her eyes at him.
She walked over to where the meat had been roasting inside of the fireplace. It was a pig with vegetables. She grabbed a thick wad of towels and pulled the pan of meat out of the oven. She set the hot roast down on the wooden counter-top. She went into the cupboard and got out two plates.
Kaiser had walked over to the table as she dished out the food. It smelled so good. It was probably going to taste wonderful as well. His wife was a fine cook.
Both of them sat down to eat after Mayumi had dished out the food. Kaiser gobbled up his food rather quickly. That is what happens when you don't eat for a few hours. He was surprised that he had lost as much energy as he had. He needed to keep his strength up. He could hear the sweet snoring of the baby in the next room. The bedroom was right next to the kitchen. It pleased Kaiser to think that the future of their world was sleeping in safety, oblivious to the worries of adults. A small smile formed on Kaiser's face.
He rose and took his plate and put it in the sink. He poured some water over it to remove some of the food that remained. He came from a long line of warriors. He guessed that is the way Cro was going now. He couldn't be prouder. A small smirk came over his face and he heard Mayumi coming up from behind him.
“You worried about him?” Mayumi asked, as she wrapped her arms around her husband’s back.
“Some, but he will be fine. He is a mighty warrior and braver than anyone else,” Kaiser said, smiling. He spun Mayumi around and planted a kiss on her lips. When he did that, their baby began to scream. He was hungry. Kaiser rolled his eyes as Mayumi kissed him back then quickly vanished into the other room.
“Oh, Kasumi.” Kaiser said, shaking his head. He also walked into room to watch Mayumi tend the baby.
* * * *
Danzivar had a daunting task in front of him. He must try to stop Darlack from taking over the world. Why did these assholes think they'd get to take over the world? It was just an impossible feat.
Danzivar lived in Guelder and his friend, Ezekiel, was the cleric of the village. A king and a queen ruled the village, giving out orders and making rules.
Danzivar was usually quiet. He was known as the silent type. A fierce warrior, he was known to kill without even thinking, pushing himself up and beyond the call of battle. That was normal to him.
He was sitting down on a stump of a rather large cedar tree and cleaned his sword. It had been covered with fresh blood, but the blade was clean now and he sheathed it back to his side. He thought for a minute about the world around him. Something seemed to permeate the very air, something that drove nearly everybody crazy. It didn't drive him crazy. It caused more people to launch attacks on his village. What were they looking for? He wondered.
Guelder was usually a peaceful place but it had not really been peaceful lately. There was something brewing in the air. Something Danzivar feared was going to change everything. The way they looked at things and the way they lived their lives was going to change. Might as well get used to it.
Before that happened, Darlack was a big task that needed to be dealt with. That man didn't know when or how to quit. He was a ruthless fighter and killer when he needed to be. He was very powerful and fluent in both black and white magic. That made him dangerous. Darlack surrounded himself with powerful allies. Danzivar thought to himself that he wouldn't be too surprised if he had warriors working for him.
He had no idea on how Darlack could be stopped right now but he had to be stopped. Danzivar stared off into the distance. Leaving this village to go after a madman like this? Was it worth it? Would it be worth saving the whole world from someone like this? Danzivar usually didn't think like this. He bravely undertook the most dangerous missions without a second thought. However, this would be the most dangerous mission he'd ever been on. Saving the world was a big task, even for someone strong and brave like him. Danzivar knew what he had to do. He must push himself to the limit, both emotionally and physically. The showdown between him and Darlack was coming soon.
Ezekiel had been out lately. Trying to find new techniques for him and the members of his village. Saving his village was the most important thing to him. He was dressed in a robe and he carried in his hand a large scepter, which held great magic that he could cast. His magic was something that helped protect the village. Whenever there was an attack, either Ezekiel or Danzivar was called to defend the village. No one could beat them together, but Ezekiel wondered how they would fare if divided
When either of them had to fight, they had to keep this in mind. Both of them worked well together as a team. Enemies were going to figure that out and try to divide the team. It was something to keep an eye out for, Ezekiel knew.
Truth be told, Ezekiel and Danzivar would use the same strategy, trying to split up a team that was well oiled and that could beat them. It was just the nature of the beast, standard battle techniques. Every warrior wanted to survive so they could preserve the life of their fellow villagers, and they would do what was needed to stay alive.
The world had been in chaos for a long time. Few jobs were available and it was hurting everyone. Most warriors had to offer out their services as killers nowadays. It seemed like that was the only way to make ends meet now. It would be different if certain people weren't in power. Certain kings and queens of the villages hoarded all the money and didn't let people earn it back. These corrupt assholes kept it all to themselves and the people of the villages were made to suffer.
Darlack was miles away from Danzivar's village. Darlack was on the quest to find the sword of Immortality, a sword that would grant him the power to live forever. Why would one want such power? It was simple. So they could rule over the world until the end of time. Time never ended, but people's lives did. He wasn't going to let that happen to him. He was going to rule these lands for the rest of time.
He rode his horse through the desert. He took out the map that he had stolen from one of the villages. That’s how he acquired the things he needed—he took what he needed and moved on. He still marveled at the silly people in that village. If they had not tried to stop him, they would still be alive.
A powerful warrior was rumored to live in one of the villages nearby, a small place named Bathum. He would send one of his minions, Kradox, to Bathum to kill whatever warrior lived there. He couldn't have someone from another village ruining his plans. He would also send another minion, Kruta, to Florin to make sure no one there could stand against him.
Darlack put his finger on the map. He had a long ways to go to find this sword. The Temple was on the other side of the world.
* * * *
Kruta and Kradox were ready for their mission. They waited upon the word from Darlack. The three of them traveled together. Darlack hadn’t been the only person attacking the fallen village. It wasn't like Darlack could do something like that alone. He needed help. The man was thickheaded and very strong. They felt like they would get the word soon. They were very impatient and looked forward to causing mayhem and destruction. They should have been named Mayhem and Destruction. They were not brothers, just partners that traveled the world doing jobs for the highest bidder, but they were much alike.
Cro hated being stuck in Florin and he really wanted to get back to Bathum. He missed his mother's cooking. He couldn’t find anything happening in the city. He wondered where that woman had traveled off to. He was getting one of those feelings he usually got when something big was just about to happen.
Like any good warrior, he had not left the area without his sword. It was strapped across his back. He thought he could hear something coming from another part of the town. Then he smelled smoke. Had something been set on fire? He looked around. He couldn't see anything. Out of instinct. He unsheathed his sword and took it in his hand.
Cro had heard rumors of Fire Welders living in this area. They were not exactly the nicest people in the world. His father had told him the story of having to battle one. He figured his father had made up the story. He knew that such beings didn't really exist in this world. Just a story his father would tell him at bedtime. Or was it?
His father was always pushing his own limits. He really wanted to be like Kaiser, his father. He was a great warrior and was raising a family. In hard times like this it wasn't easy. Everybody was scrounging for money. That is why Cro did what he did.
Something whizzed by his head. It was hot. It was a fireball. Holy shit! He looked up and then looked in the direction the ball was headed in. It was on a collision course with a mother and her three children.
“Fuck!” Cro said and he ran as fast as he could. The fireball was getting closer to the woman. He dove in front of the fireball and then used his sword to bat it away. The fireball hit the ground a few feet away from him and the woman.
Who the hell did this person think they were? Why would someone be so evil to attack a quiet village like Florin? There wasn't anything here that was worth fighting over. Who were they and what did they want?
He stood ready for battle. He looked over towards the woman and the children he had saved. He watched them run off along with the rest of the scared villagers. He looked up and two fireballs were coming his way. He moved to the right. One passed him by and hit a building made of stone. He saw the other fireball and he used his hand to send the fireball back towards the person that had thrown it at him.
The attacker was hidden. Cro couldn't see where the attacks were coming from. Then he saw a group of people coming towards him. They looked like a mix of hired thugs and bandits. They were all charging him. He did his best to ward off the attackers, killing most of the rag-tag group. What did they want with this village? He had heard rumors of powerful runes that were in the caves of Florin. Could that be it? Maybe they were after him. That couldn't be it; Cro’s enemies usually ended up dead. He could think of no one who would waste time chasing him.
As the battle continued, he killed most of the attackers. Bodies kept on piling up around him, covered in cuts and gouges.
They had come from Cro’s sword. Something else was at hand. He still needed to find the person who attacked him earlier. Was this person going to show himself or was he just going to stay hidden? Did the coward hide himself in fear? Cro smirked, thinking that the man was wise to avoid this battle—he would never want to have to fight himself.
Now he would find the hidden foe. Cro walked slowly, trying to take in his surroundings. He could feel someone nearby.
He had this unsettling feeling and it was getting to him. This person had to be hiding either in one of the houses or on top of one of them. He looked around but he couldn't really see the roofs that well. While he was distracted, he was attacked from behind. Cro felt arms pick him up and throw him a few feet. A barrage of fireballs sputtered in the air, but luckily Cro was lying down, below the reach of the fireballs. He was unharmed.
So this is how it was going to happen. That was fine with him. Who was this attacker? Cro pushed himself up off of the ground. He blinked for a moment when he saw who he was fighting. It didn't look like anything he has seen before.
A man stood a few feet away from him, wielding a sword and a shield, both made out of fire. Cro guess that his attacker had used magic to create his weapons. It didn't matter. This asshole was going to get cut down! He had to think about how to attack this person. Couldn't just rush in and attack.
“I don't care who you are. Just know I am going to cut you down!” Cro growled.
“Cut me down?” the man said, chuckling softly. “Don't make me laugh. No one this side of Tactum has ever cut down Pyrallis!”
He growled as their eyes meet. Sparks sizzled in the air around the two warriors; the kind of sparks you saw before someone or something got destroyed. It would be a fierce battle. Neither warrior would give an inch.
It was time to see who was the better man. Who would walk out of this battle alive and who wouldn't be living again? Pyrallis’s intentions for being in Florin had not been made yet. Maybe it was just for a fight or something more powerful.
Two seasoned warriors were about to face off. The fate of Florin was in their hands. Pyrallis, a man hell-bent on destruction and opposing him was Cro, a bloodthirsty warrior from Bathum.
The scene was mad chaos. The few villagers who had remained outside their homes scrambled to get out of there. It was understandable since no one wanted to be caught in the crossfire. Both of them just stood there looking at each other, waiting for the other to make a move. It didn't look like either of them planned on taking the first step. Cro had his sword but no shield and Pyrallis had weapons made out of fire and could control fire itself.
Cro wondered as he faced this enemy what the man could Pyrallis want with this city, except the obvious. He could mean simply to destroy it. That appeared to be his goal, to just show people that he was superior to them. Pyrallis looked like he was that kind of person. Maybe there was something here that he was after. What could be here that would be worth something to Pyrallis, Cro wondered.
It didn't look good for the town of Florin. Even if Cro did find a way to defeat Pyrallis, they might not have a village left after the battle. The town had a good chance of being destroyed in this fight. When two warriors are fighting, they don't usually think about the town they are fighting in or if it gets destroyed or not. Nothing would get in the way of two warriors fighting. The wind blew and both warriors just stood there.
Finally both warriors charged in at each other. They exchanged blows on each other. Pyrallis kicked Cro in the stomach and it sent him flying back a few feet. Cro took his sword and stuck it in the ground, digging into the dirt to slow down the movement of his body. Cro huffed as he regained his footing. He charged in after Pyrallis and he swung his sword. It was met with Pyrallis’s own sword. They slammed against one another and Cro growled. Neither of them would be easy to take down. Both of them were going to give as much as they possibly could.
Cro kicked Pyrallis as hard as he could. It did little, due to Pyrallis’s fire armor. Cro growled once again. This was annoying him. Cro stepped back and then ran after Pyrallis with his sword. He jumped in the air with his sword and aimed for Pyrallis's head. It hit Pyrallis's head with a mighty thump. Pyrallis just looked up at Cro and grinned. It had no effect on this stranger.
Right at that moment Pyrallis let out a flurry of fireballs and Cro did his best to dodge all he could. He knocked a few of them away with his sword. Cro knew he had to beat this man, but he didn't really know if it was possible. Cro took a deep breath. The spirit of a warrior was within him. He rushed in once again.
They battled. Their swords clashed. They made a loud crackling sound as they pressed up against one another. Cro sneered at Pyrallis. He only sought to bring this man down. It was the way of the warrior.
The two warriors continued to fight. They fought all over the city. No one came out. They stayed inside of their homes. They didn't want to get into the middle of the action. Walls were broken, falling down and causing entire buildings to fall. Both of the warriors pushed themselves to the limit.
They continued to trade blows. Cro was beginning to look a bit beat up. But it was the way of the warrior, always fighting and never giving up. When did the thought of defeat enter a warrior's mind? Never!
“You can't even touch me, fool,” Pyrallis gloated.
“Fight’s not over yet, Pyrallis!” Cro grunted.
Neither of them would be the same when they left the battlefield. If they left the battlefield. Cro's black hair dropped down in front of his face. His eyes held an intensity, a fire that had not been seen for such a long time. His eyes told the story. The icy stare of a warrior who had nothing and everything to lose.
He couldn't let Pyrallis leave this place alive. If he did, what would happen? Pyrallis would report back to his superior that he couldn't finish the job. Maybe he was doing this for another reason. It could just be some foolish random attack on what he saw as an unprotected village. He could be a disgruntled former member of the town. Maybe he was a former royal or elite.
It didn't matter to Cro. The battle would continue. The fighting had let up for a brief moment. Cro had begun to breathe rather heavily. His body was covered with cuts and gashes all over his body and he could feel his energy waning. He needed to come up with a plan.
The blood dripped from Cro's most recent wounds. He wiped the blood from his forehead. It had been trying to drip down into his eyes. He knew Pyrallis would use that to attack him. Attacking somebody while they’re blinded was not the noblest thing to do but it was effective.
It seemed like whatever he did, Cro couldn't touch this man. Fire energy was hard to fight. Maybe if he controlled the water elements, he would be able to make a dent in Pyrallis. He needed to think of something fast!
“What's wrong, warrior? You seemed so sure a moment ago,” Pyrallis said, chuckling softly to himself as he looked at Cro.
“You have a weakness, I will find it and I will FINISH YOU!” Cro shouted.
The war would rage on between the two warriors, both of them sure they would win. Cro had finally got a strike in on Pyrallis, but it didn't seem to do much. Cro growled out of frustration, what did he have to do to put this motherfucker down?
His ice blue eyes glared at Pyrallis. Where did Pyrallis come from? How did he know how to use such powers? He had to be trained at magic or the use of chi, or it could be a mix of both. Cro had never seen the warrior’s technique.
Being a warrior, it was in his blood and it was something he would never lose. He wanted to be great like his father, Kaiser. Cutting down Pyrallis and saving this village was his only mission at the moment. He knew he'd have to push himself to his breaking limits. He smirked softly as he knew that was fine with him.
This man felt familiar to Cro and he didn't know why. Could this person have fought with his father? That couldn't be it. It could just be an odd coincidence, but he didn't trust coincidences. They probably crossed paths before when Cro was younger.
Pyrallis charged at Cro and Cro met his opponent with a clash of swords. Neither one would give up. They glared and growled at one another and pushed each other back. A few brave souls had peeked out from their houses to see what was happening. The fate of Florin was hanging in the balance.
No one joined Cro on the battlefield, which was fine for him. He was used to being the Lone Wolf. He heard from behind him the sounds of someone running to the battlefield. What kind of an insane person was going to come out and try to fight this thing? Cro was a trained warrior and he doubted another warrior was joining the battle.
“You son of a bitch!” A young man was on the battlefield, and Cro saw a light surrounding him. The young man launched an orb of energy towards Pyrallis, with a great huff as he watched the orb of energy being absorbed by the enemy. It had no effect on the warrior.
“You think you can come in here, and take our village from us!” the young man growled. He shook his head. “That ain't happening!” the young man added, his eyes filled with anger and pride. He wasn't letting some madman take over the village he had lived in for his whole life!
“I'm sick of your kind! This ends today! I'll be the one who cuts you down. I am Dask and I will be your undoing!”
“Foolish child,” Pyrallis said. He simply raised his hand and a gust of wind arose, pushing the young man back a few feet. The young man smashed into the side of a building.
“Asshole.” Dask said, pushing himself up off of the ground. “You think that'll stop me?” Dask said. He looked at Pyrallis with a smirk on his face.
“Kid, get out of here. This is something for the grown ups to deal with,” Cro said as he looked over towards Dask, a slight smirk on his face. The kid reminded him of himself when he was younger. That could either be a good or a bad thing. Cro wasn't sure what it was at this moment.
Cro charged in once again, he wanted this fucker dead before he hurt the boy Dask or any of the villagers. He would not leave this village without Pyrallis's head under his arm. He didn't know how he was going to do it, but he was going to have this fucker's head on his wall.
Cro glared at his enemy. It was true, this man could be considered Cro's enemy right now. He wasn't going to give up the fight. Both of them continued to fight and as they clashed sparks flew from the force of metal hitting metal as swords crashed together. Dask couldn't do anything but watch the two warriors battle. Dask didn’t care that he stood in the middle of a dangerous battlefield. He felt like he should be there. He wanted to put his life on the line for his town. He continued to watch Cro and Pyrallis battle. Neither of them was giving up an inch. It could rage on for days, he knew it wasn't going to be an easy fight, yet it was a fight that needed to happen.
“Come on, cut that bastard down,” Dask said as he watched Cro. “If you can't do it, I'll have my turn.”
The mighty steed would bring her to the battlefield and she was determined to get there in time. She really hoped Cro wasn't in over his head, but knowing her best friend, he was. A slight smile came over her face as she adjusted her battle equipment. She had a sword strapped to her back, two daggers strapped to her side. A small shield was strapped on her back, under the sword.
The horse galloped through the forest that led from Azmar to Florin.
“Don't do anything stupid,” the woman said to herself, keeping her hands on the reigns. She slapped them down, and the horse began to run faster through the woods.
The thoughts of Cro getting hurt because of his ignorance, it made her shudder as she rode. They had been friends of most of their life and they shared a close bond. It was almost an unearthly bond. They could often feel and see what the other could feel and see. That is how she knew he was fighting. It was an odd thing and it helped in battle sometimes. There had been a few times where she had to pretty much save his ass.
She had wondered what had Cro so riled up that he was fighting. Could it be something to do with his father? It might be an old enemy was threatening Cro's family or the town he was in. The horse continued to gallop through the forest and she had to push a few branches out of her face as the horse made its way through.
It didn't take her long to get to a small village that was filled with people. This village isn't where her friend was, she could sense that much. The village was Estermount, a place where people grew food and bred animals. She had noticed that no one was around. It was usually busy, but maybe its residents were frightened by what is going on in the next town. People did get like that when a nearby village was under attack. It might happen in their own village.
It was odd seeing the place as a ghost, town. She continued to look around some more. Something bothered her about the deserted village, but maybe it was just her imagination. She slapped the reins down on the horse again and it started to move through the village. She found a path that would lead them towards Florin, where she sensed Cro was. She still had a long ride in front of her. She slapped the reins down and the horse sprinted even faster. She would be there soon.
Dask was watching Cro and Pyrallis intently, although it didn't seem like either of them was going to make a move. Dask let out a low grunt of frustration. He wanted a chance to fight. There was a big chance that he would get hurt, but that was a chance he needed to take. Florin was his home; it had always been home. He knew Cro didn't live here and was just visited Florin to get patched up. Why was he trying to defend this place?
Dask was just an onlooker right now. He watched both of them. Dask had the ability to channel energy. He could heal himself with spells that he had learned. They wouldn't last long. It took time to heal one's body and it wasn't instantaneous. Also if he used his energy attacks, they would drain him badly. He could contribute little to the defense of Florin and he hated having to feel so useless.
Dask sighed as he watched. What was going to happen next? The existence of Florin was hanging in the balance; the battle of good and evil was raging on. It did look like the fight was at a stalemate for now. Neither warrior made a move. It would be hard to guess the outcome of this one. More onlookers ringed the battlefield. The brave ones that had ventured out of their houses and had been watching the two warriors clash before they abruptly stopped.
The villagers knew what was at stake, their town and their pride was on the line. Good didn't always prevail. Sometimes, evil won. Many of them were scared, but they were drawn to the battlefield to witness the fate of their village.
Many of the ex-soldiers of Florin looked on as well, thinking about the days they had defended Florin with their lives. It was bittersweet watching the young generation fight, something that they had once done with pride and valor. The soldiers had become old, weak and worn. There was no way they could even carry their sword anymore. Their armor had rusted up and now was useless to them. They still had their memories and could give advice to the young generation. It was still hard to watch and not be able to fight.
They all had high hopes for the stranger that was standing up for them. They had no idea who he was or where he was from. Sometimes people are just in the right place at the exactly right time. The man looked tired. Could he go down fighting or would he just give up? His pride probably wouldn't let him give up. He was a strong one, a very strong one. There is no doubt about that.
Little did anyone know, but Pyrallis had forces coming to Florin for the simple purpose of turning it upside down, to find what the Master desired. It was a map of sorts, not any ordinary map but a map showing them the way to a legendary temple that may or may not exist.
If it could be found, the temple was rumored to house a sword, a sword that would grant its wielder unimaginable power and immortality. The stronger you were, the longer you survived.
Who did not wish to never again have the fear of death lingering over his head? Many sought the sword.
“So what are you really here for?” Cro growled. He was tired and in pain and this fight didn't seem like it was going anywhere.
“It's simple, I want what anyone else wants: Power. There is a map in this town, a map that will show me the way to the legendary Sword of Immortality. When I have it in my grasp, I will rule this world as a GOD!” Pyrallis ended with a shout. He smirked as he looked at the man standing before him. They were both tired and neither of them was going to give an inch.
“I feel something is not right,” Ezekiel said with concern in his voice. He turned to Danzivar, his good friend. At first they had been rivals. Neither of them knew they were going to end up being friends. It's funny how things work out in life, Ezekiel thought to himself.
The cleric placed his hand under his chin. Both Ezekiel and Danzivar had been noticing what has been happing in the world, the increasing violence and the lack of jobs. It seems like more people had become hired guns for the wealthy. Either the money was good, or they just liked to fight.
A whispering in the winds hinted at a Sword of Immortality, in The Caverns of Desdain. Were these rumors true? It'd be fun to find out. Danzivar was always trying to push himself to the breaking point and he wanted to be the strongest in the village. One’s body might die, but the spirit never dies. The spirit will always live on, it will always find another body to go into and that body will be stronger, it will keep on fighting. This is something Danzivar believed in.
Neither Ezekiel nor Danzivar had anyone to fight with for a long time. Maybe they should take a trip to Desdain, find this sword and get stronger on their way to the sword.
“This Sword of Immortality,” Ezekiel began, turning to Danzivar.
“I hear you old, friend. If it falls into the wrong hands, it could be terrible for Guelder and the whole world,” Danzivar said as he looked at Ezekiel.
“We might need an army to find these sword.” Danzivar said.
“No, we have enough skill and strength to find this sword and cut down anyone who steps in between us and the sword.” Ezekiel said as he turned to Danzivar.
“When do we leave?” Danzivar asked.
“Nightfall, no one will be around then.” Ezekiel said as he looked at Danzivar and the two walked off into the distance planning what they were going to do.
The training area was empty except for two women. One was an older woman, a veteran warrior, and the younger woman was just learning the ropes of how to fight. The younger woman lunged at the older woman in an attack, attempting to stab the older woman. The older woman simply stepped out of the younger woman’s reach.
“Damn it, she's fast,” Vera, the younger warrior, said under her breath. The woman she faced, Gweniver, was her mother. They both had dirty blonde hair and light blue eyes and looked almost identical.
At a young age, Vera knew she wanted to be a warrior; she wanted to be the one to protect Guelder from the evil invaders it had experienced in the past. This training session made her feel weak, as sweat poured off her brow and she pushed her dirty blonde hair out of her face. She looked over towards her mother.
“Alright, that’s enough for today,” Gweniver said. She walked out of the training area and Vera stood there and leaned on her sword that she had sticking into the ground. Everyone in the village was so strong, a lot of warriors and healers and even a few mages lived in their village.
She just wanted to be strong like everyone else and all she wanted to do was to be able to protect her loved ones. Her hard work would pay off one day and she would then show everyone how strong she was.
The world was changing, Vera knew. It wasn't as carefree as it used to be. The rumors about Immortalus, the Immortal Sword had been spreading like wildfires. Was it true or not? Many were going to venture off into the night in search of the legend.
The rumor had caught the eyes and ears of the royals that resided in Guelder. Vathros, the prince of Guelder, had heard about the rumor and it intrigued him to no end. A sword with a power like that should be his! It shouldn't fall into the hands of a mere peasant. That could only mean one thing: Vathros was going to hunt for the sword and cut down anyone who got in his way.
He had also heard that a few other people from Guelder were going to hunt for the sword. Interesting, maybe he could persuade them to join his fight, his crusade. That sword was going to be his! He didn't care what the other members of his family thought, he was going to do this and become the most powerful being in the world! He had a lot of plotting to do.
* * * *
For once Cro didn't know how to take a guy down, even with his superior skills as warrior. The man was too powerful. Cro didn't want to look weak in front of the townspeople of Florin. He knew he couldn't win the battle, but he needed to continue to fight. If an opening occurred, a weakness within Pyrallis, he was going to find it. He didn't want to let the citizens of Florin down. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed.
He opened up his eyes and looked over at Pyrallis. If they had been on the same side, they would have made an awesome team. This warrior had a fire inside of him that wasn't going to die. Cro wouldn’t let the city down like this. He had to find a weak point in this guy. Everyone had a weak point; the secret was to find a way to exploit it. He wouldn't stop until he found that weak point, but the truth is that he was tired.
The battle had been raging on for what seemed like forever. The villagers were afraid. They didn't know what was going to happen next. Dask was still near the battlefield, eager to jump in and try to help anyway he could. He had to keep his distance though, or else he knew he would be injured. How could Pyrallis be so strong, what was his secret? Dask looked over to Pyrallis and then back over at Cro. Dask knew in his heart that Cro would win. He had to win or Florin would be turned to dust!
Warriors were sworn to fight and die for their ideals, and it didn't matter how messy or dirty the fight got. They always defended their ideals. What did Pyrallis truly want here? Dask wondered. Could something have been done to keep this dastardly man from trying to destroy the village of Florin? Dask wondered bleakly if such dark times would ever stop.
Maybe if Pyrallis had found what he was looking for he would leave. Cro and Pyrallis started fighting again. Neither of them said a word. Their swords clashed, sending sparks flying into the tension-filled air. Neither of them was giving up. Cro's body was covered with cuts and he was bleeding heavily. Pyrallis didn't appear to have a single scratch on him.
Cro realized the enchanted armor was protecting Pyrallis. That was the only reason why Pyrallis wasn't injured and Cro needed to find a way to break that armor. When he would find a way to break the armor, then Pyrallis might be at a disadvantage, and that would be the opening that Cro would need.
Prince Vathros had disappeared into his training chamber. It was a large metal-lined room, with suits of armor on one wall and various weapons on the other wall. Training dummies were set up all throughout the chamber. The dummies were just steel suits of armor, filled with linen “bodies” which were stuffed with straw to keep them standing. As the Prince of Guelder his job was to stay strong and defend his people from invading forces. Some warlords didn't like him and would do anything to bring him down. He was arrogant and prideful, but he did have the skills to back it up. His father had molded him, and the old man was a harsh teacher. That was fine with the Prince as he knew the title of King would be his one day and he would lead everyone in this town to victory and onward to claim the world as his. Other towns waited to be conquered, and then he would go on to to conquer the four points of the world. That isn't why he was here right now, though. The legend and rumor claimed that the Sword of Immortality would give you godly powers, as well as eternal life. He trained now for his quest to find the sword. He needed to trust his own skills that he had honed since he was young. He walked over to the wall where the swords hung and he grabbed one. He held it firmly in his hand. It has been a while since he had held a sword in his hand. It felt good, very good. He ran towards one of the dummies and stabbed it in a gap in the armor. He pulled his weapon back out. He ran at another dummy and slashed it in the torso, tearing the linen in half and spilling straw on the ground. He ran at a few more and slashed them in half as well. As he continued training, sweat beads began to form on his forehead. He huffed and dropped down to one knee. How could he be so out of shape? When he was younger, training like this was easier. He had not seen battle in some time; he needed to get back out onto the battlefield. His father would be so upset right now, seeing his youngest son struggling just to battle straw men. Vathros should be the strongest warrior in the village. He needed to do something and he needed to do it fast. He realized what he needed to do was seek out stronger warriors and by defeating them, build his own strength. He needed to venture further out into the world and meet those stronger beings. His strength as a warrior was buried deep down inside of him. He just needed to find a way to let it out. Only real battles with real warriors would release his bravery and strength. The young prince smirked slightly and he got up on both feet. He would leave soon and he would find that strength and become the strongest warrior in the world! **** Sara spent most of the night riding and made it to Florin very quickly. She found no one in the streets and the houses looked empty and unused. Suddenly she could feel some energy nearby. Maybe it was somebody that she could talk to who knew what was happening in this land. She needed to know where Cro was and if he was okay. She shook her head. That man was going to be the death of her. A child ran over and stood next to her horse. “Are you here to help us?” The child asked, looking up towards the woman on the horse. “Help you with what, child?” Sara asked, looking down to the child. “Fighting, over there,” the child said, pointing down the road. “Who's fighting?” Sara asked the child. “A hero and a bad man,” the child answered, his eyes round with wonder. “What does the hero look like?” Sara wondered if this hero could be Cro. “A big man, with long black hair and he was holding a big sword!” the child explained. “Then, yes, little one, I am here to help,” Sara said with a smile at the child. She kicked her heels to spur her horse toward the battle. Sara raced down the streets of Florin. She could feel a terrible energy in the distance. She was a bit frightened about what she was going to find. The horse ran fast down the road, and as they got closer the energy got stronger. This had to be where the battle was taking place. “I hope you haven't got your stubborn ass killed yet, Cro,” Sara said, through gritted teeth. A few moments later she had arrived at the battlefield. She looked over towards the two that were fighting. One looked like a demon from Hell and the other held his ground against the stronger warrior. That had to be Cro, she thought with a sigh. She noticed a child standing behind Cro. “You'd better not die doing this,” Sara said, watching Cro. For once she hoped he didn't see her. She didn't want to be a distraction for Cro. She doubted that he could see her, because the two men were fighting intensely. ****
The two fighters continued to clash, swords whistling through the air and clanging as metal met metal. The villagers were hoping that Cro could defeat this man. Cro was moving slower and his arms did not lift his sword as high as the other warrior’s sword. He must be getting tired and weak. He wasn't going to be able to keep this up much longer. The blades of the two warriors met again, raising sparks and Cro stumbled backwards a few feet. They both grunted. One was going to die, and the other was going to stand tall in victory. Cro was the type that would never back down. He knew he was beaten and it was just a matter of time, but he would not accept defeat. He narrowed his eyes as he looked over at Pyrallis. The silence was deafening. Pyrallis knew his forces were almost done with their mission. He needed to wrap this fight up soon. This battle was a mere distraction so no one would go after his forces. He smirked, thinking of what a good plan he had created. He hadn't known that this hero was going to show up and try to challenge him. But it had been a good thing that Cro had shown up; it gave him some playtime before he went back to his own land. He hasn't had to actually work this hard in a fight for sometime. He was still as strong as he had been at the beginning of the battle. Being a weakling wasn't in his design. Cro had rushed in and attacked Pyrallis without warning. He got a few hits on Pyrallis. His apparent success did not last long. Pyrallis raised his hand up and threw Cro back fifty feet, where he crashed into a house. One wall of the house crashed down on top of Cro but he was unhurt. He pushed the rubble off the top of him and threw it to one side. He searched for his sword and within a few moments he found it and grabbed it. He rushed towards Pyrallis once more and again he got a few hits in. Unfortunately, they had little effect on Pyrallis. Pyrallis slashed at Cro’s torso and was pleased when he saw that Cro had started to bleed heavily. Pyrallis smirked at Cro and then with a simple wave of his hand, he sent Cro flying into another house. This time he wasn't so merciful. He sent a large stream of fire-based energy after Cro and it hit the house and set it on fire. The fire caught Cro’s clothing but he was able to smack the flames out and escape the burning house. He stood facing the battlefield, covered with ash and blood, breathing heavily. “It has been fun, Cro but I must depart.” Pyrallis said. He waved his hand as he noticed some of his forces coming out of the woods. Two of his men carried a large wooden chest. A carriage with two horses followed. The men loaded the chest onto the carriage and then got into the carriage as well. Pyrallis had disappeared from the battlefield, leaving Florin with his men. “You son of a bitch!” Cro growled, holding his right arm with his left hand. The arm was broken when he flew into the now burning house. “Cro!” Sara yelled as she dismounted and ran over to Cro. “What are you doing here?” Cro asked as his friend neared. “I thought you were in trou-,” Sara began to say. “I'm fine!” Cro said cutting Sara off in mid-sentence. “Forgive me, old friend, but you do not look fine,” she said, nodding at his broken arm. “Truthfully, you look like shit,” “Yeah, thanks.” Cro said, shaking his head slightly. **** Ezekiel and Danzivar set out on their grand adventure. They mounted their horses and left Guelder. They didn't say goodbye to their loved ones. They left town while everyone was asleep. They had packed supplies to last a week or more, and little else. It was going to be a difficult journey, but they were sure they could handle the challenge.
“You ready, old friend?” Ezekiel asked as he looked towards Danzivar.
“Yup,” Danzivar said, nodding as he looked over his shoulder at his friend.
They had been mortal enemies at one time. It was a long time ago. They hadn't known any better and both had been strong willed. At the time, they each thought they were better than the other. It did lead to some epic battles between them, but ended up being good memories they would treasure forever.
The journey began with a single step. The legend of the Immortal Sword had been passed down from generation-to-generation. Most of them thought it was only a story. Ezekiel and Danzivar knew better and they didn't want that sword to fall into the wrong hands. They weren’t seeking immortality for themselves so much as they desired to keep it out of the hands of those who would use it for evil reasons.
They rode off into the distance and vanished from the town of Guelder. There were dark forces aligning against the world and the town of Guelder. They’d left behind people who could defend the town of Guelder. That was the responsibility of the prince and the Royal family. They defended the town.
The stars in the sky would guide Danzivar and Ezekiel to their destination. They both had a feeling where they had to go and they were relying on their gut and the sky to point them in the right direction.
“Where do you think this sword is?” Danzivar asked Ezekiel, more to create conversation than to learn anything he didn’t already know.
“Legend says it's hidden in a dark cave on the other side of the world,” Ezekiel replied.
“That's great,” Danzivar replied, grinning broadly at his friend.
“That is just the legend,” Ezekiel said. He looked around for a moment. He thought he had heard something but saw nothing out of the ordinary. “I think it's closer. The legend could just be a way to throw people off of the true location of the sword.”
They rode off into the night, quickly putting distance between themselves and their home. The location of the sword might be unknown. It was going to take them some time to reach the sword and there would be many battles ahead of them if they truly desired the sword. It would not be an easy task. It was very daunting, yet each felt a great excitement at the thought of the adventure they faced. It would test their resolve and their friendship.
Pyrallis and his men had rode through the desert for most of the night. They came to an abandoned town, where they were to meet the buyer. Whatever was in that box was very important to this man. They rode through the town until they got to a large stone building, which resembled a small castle. Men surrounded the building. They wore swords at their hips and must be more hired guns for the buyer. Pyrallis got off of his horse and approached one of the men.
“We have retrieved the item. We need to see your boss,” Pyrallis said.
“Very well.” The man said. He turned to the rest of his men and motioned to let Pyrallis and his men go in.
Pyrallis walked back to the carriage and told the men inside to grab the chest. They were going to deliver it to this man and they would be paid handsomely. Pyrallis led his men into the stone building. Two of his men carried the chest.
Once inside the building, they went up three flights of stairs until they came to the buyer's chamber. The man was sitting in a large chair with his hands folded on his lap. A dark cloak hid his face and body. Pyrallis caught his gaze and he could see the man smirk.
“Did you encounter any trouble finding the item, Pyrallis?” the man asked.
“I ran into a little bit of trouble, but it wasn't anything I couldn't take care of,” Pyrallis said, he looked at the man.
Pyrallis didn't want to admit it but fighting Cro had done a number on him. He had still been the strongest in the fight, but he has never fought someone with such determination and drive. The warrior had been willing to put his own life on the line for a bunch of people he didn't know. No one in Pyrallis’s world would do such a thing.
He had been lost in his thoughts when he realized the buyer was walking towards him. He imagined the Sword of Immortality, the great Immortalus lay inside.
The buyer approached the chest and opened it. A single sheet of paper sat inside of the chest. The paper was a brownish-yellow color and appeared to be extremely old. The buyer grinned. He had been looking for this for his entire life. It was the map to the hiding place of the Sword of Immortality. The sword was a legend and it was a fool’s crusade to seek it unprepared. He was impressed that Pyrallis and his men had found the map so easily. They must have known where to look. With the map in his hand he walked over to Pyrallis.
“You've completed your quest, Pyrallis.” He handed the piece of paper to Pyrallis. “You start another one at dawn.”
“Oh?” Pyrallis asked as he looked down at the piece of paper in his hand.
“I want you to retrieve the Sword of Immortality for me. With this map, you should be able to get there in no time,” the man said. He coughed a bit. “I'd do it myself, but I'm too old for this journey.”
“Alright, I accept this quest,” Pyrallis said, he nodded and turned around to look at his men. It looked like another journey had started.
Sara had helped Cro to an empty house in the village and Dask followed behind. When she got him into the house, she made him lie down on a bed. He had been badly burned and it would take him a few days to heal. If a healer lived in the village, it would take less time. She would go look for one as soon as Cro was settled. She watched Cro winced in pain and her heart dropped. She hated seeing him like this, injured and hurting. A stubborn male, that is all he was. Still, she admired his bravery. Few warriors would have fought with such power and intensity defending a village to which he had no ties.
Cro winced as the pain shot through out his body. It felt like his body was on fire again. He groaned though he wanted to scream. He kept his eyes closed as long as he could. He opened them up and looked around the room. At least it wasn't the shed that Juliana usually brought him too. He looked to his left and he saw Sara. He swore he had seen her leave. Maybe the pain was making him delusional. He needed to pursue the warrior he had battled. He didn't like being beaten like this and he wouldn't be beaten again.
Juliana had walked into the room with a towel and a bowl of crushed up herbs. She nodded briefly at Sara and put the bowl of herbs on the table. She poured some cold water over the towel. She took the herbs and wet towel to where Cro was laying down. She sprinkled the herbs all over his body and placed the towel on his chest. The herbs would make Cro's wounds heal a little faster, as would her own healing powers, but he would still need bed rest. * * * *
A few days passed and Cro's body was healing. He was well enough to get up and move around but most of his upper torso was still wrapped up in bandages. The house had been kept very neat and it was silent. No one but Cro was in the house. He managed to get off of the bed and make his way out into the kitchen area. He grabbed a cup and got himself a drink of water. His mind traveled back to what had happened a few days ago. He had lost and that is one thing he couldn't accept and never would accept.
In the last few moments of the battle, before he had slammed into the side of a house, he had noticed something. Two men had appeared out of the woods carrying a chest of some sort. Was that what Pyrallis had been looking for? Could the fight between him and Pyrallis have been some sort of diversion? It was the only thing that made sense to him. He looked out the window above the kitchen sink. He turned when he heard someone outside. He walked over towards the door, just as someone knocked lightly on the door.
He reached for the door and opened it. Sara and the boy, Dask, walked into the house. They had arms full of supplies and food. They walked into the kitchen and put everything down on the table. Cro followed both of them into the kitchen and looked at all of the food. His stomach growled. He had not eaten solid food in a few days.
“How are you feeling?” Sara asked.
“Better,” Cro said. “I just need to get back to training.”
“No!” she said sternly. “No training right now, you'd hurt your body more.”
“Fine.” Cro scoffed and he looked over at Dask and Sara.
“We are leaving for a little while. There is something I need to take care of and Dask decided he wanted to come. I'll leave you be for now,” Sara said. After a brief goodbye, she and Dask left the house, mounted Sara's horse and rode off into the distance.
Cro had wandered back to the room where his bed was. He sat down on the bed and a few moments later he fully lay down. His mind was still going too fast, trying to reason out recent events. He knew he wasn't going to be able to sleep. He needed to relax first.
He looked over towards his blood soaked clothes and sword still lying in the corner. Another defeat. How could he come back from this? A warrior always asked himself that question. His black kimono and leather pants were on a table to his right, if he were to get up and out that is what he would wear. It was better than the tattered and hole-ridden-cloth-pants he had on right now. He tried to shut his mind off, but it was several minutes before he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The city of Gastonia was under attack once again, gigantic creatures known as the Jiantes had climbed down from the mountains and attacked the city. They were hungry and wanted fresh meat.
“Hurry up, Clint!” A female voice rang out in pure desperation.
“I'm coming!” Clint yelled back as he ran towards the hordes of Jiantes. He drew two revolvers and started at the Jiantes. The bullets did nothing but piss off his foes, so he put the revolvers back in their holsters and quickly grabbed the shotgun hanging off of his back and fired a few shots at the Jiantes. Still the same results; the bullets served only to annoy them.
As he was reloading his shotgun, it jammed.
“Fuck!” Clint exclaimed as he fought to remove the jam. He looked up and saw one of the Jiantes coming after him. Before he could run, it grabbed him and lifted his body towards its mouth. Clint worked frantically and at last got the gun unjammed. He shot straight into the Jiante's mouth. The Jiante dropped Clint as it howled in pain. Clint fell about seven feet and luckily landed on a tin roof of one of the homes.
An army from a neighboring town had come to help the people of Gastonia fight their attackers. The Jiantes had slowly crushed the army, like so many ants under their feet. Clint watched on, knowing he could do little to help the army or defend his village. It was his job to protect the city against such threats as this. Right now he felt so weak. He couldn't help the people that were fighting. The Jiantes walked over the bodies of the fallen soldiers.
Clint would fight on, despite the terrible odds. He drew his shotgun and fired at the Jiantes as he jumped down from the roof of the building. With a thud he hit the ground below him. Until the end, that was his motto. He would fight until he drew his last breath. He narrowed his eyes as he looked on towards the Jiantes.
Cro woke after only a brief nap. He realized he felt much better and decided it was time to leave the house. He took off the cloth pants and put on his black leather pants and his black kimono and slid on a pair of black leather boots. He walked over to the corner and grabbed his sword. The blood had dried on his weapon, so he found a knife in the kitchen to scrape the dried blood off of his sword. When it was clean and serviceable again, he took it with him as he walked out the door.
As a child he had heard about the legend of the Monkey God. He supposedly lives in the mountains of Gastonia or near them. He needed some answers and maybe the Monkey God could give them to him. He looked around, he needed a horse or someway to get out of the village. He had a horse when he arrived in Florin but he wasn't sure what had happened to the animal. He started to walk around the town of Florin when an older gentleman approached him.
“Are you the young man that tried to ward off that attacker?” the older man asked Cro.
“Yes,” Cro said, nodding. “That was me.”
“Well, thank you. My name is Cain,” the older man said, extending his hand to Cro who shook it happily.
“Do you know what they were looking for, Cain?”
“I think so.”
“What?” Cro asked.
“The map that shows the location of Immortalus,” Cain answered.
“What's that?” Cro asked.
“A sword that holds a great amount of power,” Cain answered.
“In the hands of Pyrallis it could be. . .” Cro began to say as he looked over to Cain.
“Very dangerous, all of mankind would be in trouble. All the surrounding villages and kingdoms would cease to exist,” Cain said looking soberly at the warrior before him.
“You need to find the sword before he does. You need to bring it back here,” Cain added.
“How do I find it?” Cro asked.
“Here,” Cain said. He pulled a map out of his back pocket and put it in Cro's hand. “I kept a copy of the map, I knew someone would come for it one day. It's up to you, Cro. Find this sword, bring it back and may it finally bring peace to this land.”
Cain really did think Cro would be able to find the sword and bring it back. The fight he had with Pyrallis proved that. Cro didn't win but he had put up an admirable fight and a soldier doesn't always win the battle but weakens the enemy. That is what Cro's job had been. He wasn't meant to win against Pyrallis. The old man once was a solider and he knew what it was like to fight in a battle.
Cro stuffed the map into the right pocket of his leather pants. He had found a new quest. He needed to find a way to get stronger before starting on his way.
“So anywhere to get a drink around here?” Cro asked.
“Yes, there is a place down there,” Cain said, as he pointed to a building in the far distance.
Cro bid Cain goodbye and walked down the path where found a small cantina. He walked into the place, sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. He slapped down some gold on the bar and slammed down the drink. He ordered another one and slammed that one down. It was time for him to start his journey. He got up from the bar and walked out of the cantina.
He looked towards the sky, where dark clouds were forming in the sky. It was going to storm soon and he needed to find some means of transport. A horse would be best, of course. He walked down the path until he found a horse tied to a tree. He knew whomever the horse belonged to wouldn't mind if he borrowed it for a little while, once they realized he was trying to save their village. He mounted the horse and rode out of Florin.
As Cro rode on the horse he dug out the map. The first stop looked to be a town called Gastonia. It was about thirty miles west of Florin and he should be in Gastonia by nightfall, hopefully. It took him most of the day but he finally reached Gastonia. The horse wasn't really fast, and Cro wondered if the scrawny beast was sick. Maybe that is why it was tied to the tree. It could be the owner of the horse just left it there to die.
He had noticed what looked like giants attacking the city.
“Great!” Cro said as he jumped off of the horse.
“Find safety.” He instructed the horse, which trotted off promptly.
He felt somebody land next to him. He looked over towards the person. It was a man in a cowboy hat, a long overcoat. He wore a pair of jeans, and a pair of leather boots. The man drew his gun and started to fire at the giants. It looked like this man was fighting these beasts.
“You take the left, I'll take the right,” Cro said, giving the man a quick sideways look, not taking his eye of the giants.
“All right, but I didn't catch your name, son,” the man said.
“Not important, but I'm Cro,” Cro said with a grin.
“Clint.” The man replied with a nod. “Alright, Cro, let's cut these bastards down.”
With that both warriors did what they did best, fight. Cro had taken most of the Jiantes out on the left by cutting it in half with his sword. He watched Clint exterminate some of them with his guns. It was interesting watching someone else fight. It took only a few moments for the rest of the Jiantes to retreat. Both of them had worked up a sweat, but it was a nice work out. A few moments earlier it seemed like the town of Gastonia was doomed. Maybe if Cro hadn't wandered in when he did it would have been. Cro sheathed his bloody sword to his side and looked over towards Clint.
“Will they be back?” Cro asked Clint.
“Most likely.” Clint said, he nodded and tipped his hat slightly. “Thanks for the help.”
“So you’re a gunslinger, huh?” Cro asked.
“Yeah, you must be a swordsman.” Clint added, nodding at the sword at Cro’s side.
“What you doing in Gastonia?” Clint asked.
“Just passing through, on a quest.”
“Ah, hope you find what you’re looking for,” Clint said. He slapped Cro on the back and walked away. The town could celebrate this small victory. It was getting dark and he needed to find some place to rest for the night. There had to be some sort of inn in the town. He wandered around Gastonia for a bit when he came across a quaint inn. A small, redheaded woman sat behind the counter. Freckles covered her otherwise comely face. Cro approached the counter and slapped some gold down on the counter.
“I need a room for the night,” he said.
“Alright,” she said. She grabbed one of the room keys and put it on the counter. She took his money and Cro took the key and strode up the flight of stairs. He found his room and unlocked the door. After taking off his sword and bloody clothing, he stretched out on the bed and soon fell asleep.
Danzivar and Ezekiel had found their way to the Dark Forest, where the goblins, trolls and other assorted creatures dwelled. Neither of them was scared to be in such a place. They have traveled through the forest before. The forest connected Guelder, Tarrant and Gastonia. Both of them wanted to stop and rest for a moment. They knew that wouldn't be such a good idea. They may not be afraid, but they wanted to avoid getting attacked by a goblin or troll. Both of their horses slowed down a bit. It seemed like the horses had been spooked by something in the pathway.
There was a small man in a cloak standing in their way. Both of the horses stopped and Ezekiel and Danzivar looked at each other. Danzivar got down off of his horse and he approached the small man. The man looked up at Danzivar and with a movement of its hand, it flung Danzivar back a couple feet. This man was no normal man. He was the protector of the forest. He was a dark elf fluent in magic and extremely powerful. Those who entered his forest never left alive.
Danzivar pushed himself up off of the ground and looked over towards the man in the cloak. He needed to cut this evil elf down! He didn't want to be stuck in such a place and he knew the only way to be able to move forward was to defeat this dark elf. Danzivar lunged at the dark elf with his sword drawn, but when he got within a few feet of the dark elf, the tiny creature threw up a magical protection barrier. Danzivar sliced the barrier but nothing happened.
“I've cut down your kind before.” Danzivar growled.
Danzivar started to say something in another language; it was an incantation to a spell. A few moments passed and a bolt of lightning hit the dark elf's protective barrier. The spell didn't seem to do anything at first, but he took a few steps back as he watched the protection barrier slowly disappear. The Dark Elf came rushing towards Danzivar. The elf's nails grew quickly into long blades on each finger. It lunged at Danzivar and made a slashing motion with both its hands. Danzivar put his arms up in front of his face, and the elf’s nails left slashes through the arms of his clothing. It had been an interesting turn of events, Danzivar thought with a grin. This fight might actually be a little fun.
Vathros had left the town of Guelder on his horse. His first stop was the town of Tannant. It was one of the neighboring kingdoms and maybe he could find clues about where he could find this sword. He was armed to the teeth. He had his armor on and his sword was in his sheath, his shield on his back. He rode into the distance. He rode through the forest and it took him only a few hours to get to Tannant. He knew a short cut.
When he entered the town, he was greeted as a prince should always be greeted, with open arms. His father had always been very close with Vexona, the queen of Tannant.
Their kingdoms had always shared resources and maybe the queen would know where he could find this sword. He got off his horse and tied it to a tree. He dug an apple out of his satchel and fed it to the horse and petted its head. He found a small tavern and walked on, slapped some gold down on the bar and gulped down the drink.
He walked out of the bar and looked up towards the castle. It was in the distance and the sight of it brought a smile to his face. It was like a homecoming for him. He walked through the center of the town, and he could feel all eyes on him. It didn't take him that long to get to the castle, where two guards greeted him.
“Prince Vathros to see the queen,” Vathros said. The guards briskly stepped aside.
He walked up the steps that led to the queen's throne room. The walls bore the royal crest on either side of the hallway. He climbed the stairs until he reached the door to the throne room. He banged the doorknocker and the door slowly opened. He pushed it the rest of the way open before he stepped inside the room.
He saw the queen's throne, but it was empty. He looked around the room and saw the queen over by the window. He approached her.
“Oh young, Vathros. It has been a while hasn't it? You should come over here. The view is breath taking,” the queen said.
“Ah, yes, my queen,” Vathros said. He walked over and stood next to her. He had his hands behind his back as they looked out at the town of Tannant. It was breathtaking, he had to admit. It was like watching a bunch of ants move on an anthill. The people looked small and busy.
“How is your father?” Queen Vexona asked Vathros.
“Recently passed, I am sad to say. He died in battle protecting our town. I'm the next in line to take the throne,” Vathros said as he turned to look at Vexona.
“My condolences,” Vexona said as she looked over to Vathros. “It is a grave loss to myself, as well as your family and royal subjects. Your father was a dear friend.”
She took a moment to compose herself.
“So tell me, why are you really here?” Vexona asked.
“A legend, my queen.”
“I seek…” Vathros began to say. “… Immortalus.”
The day had slowly slipped away and it was nighttime, the sky was dark and not yet filled with stars. The moonlight gave a bit of light, enough to see where you were and what you were doing.
Cro had been sleeping but was awakened by the sound of howling outside of his window. A loud blood-curdling scream split the air. He jumped out of his bed and pulled on his leather pants, black kimono and put on his leather boots and grabbed his sword. He rushed down the stairs and out of the inn. He saw four giant wolves surrounding a young woman. He drew his sword as he ran and stood in front of the girl. The wolves circled around them. What in God's name did these wolves want with the girl? Should he try and talk to these beasts? There had been legends of werewolves that lived in the forests of Gastonia.
He had noticed the young woman was bleeding on her upper arm. Looked like one of the wolves had scratched her. He wondered if she had tried to fight back? If so that would mean she was really brave. Few people, let alone women, would have the courage to defend themselves against a pack of wolves.
“Are you okay?” Cro asked as he turned to the girl.
“I'm fine,” she responded.
“What's your name?”
“Bella. It's short for Isabella.”
One of the wolves lunged at Cro. With a twist of his wrist, he swung his sword and cut off the wolf’s head. It fell at Cro's feet, and he watched the carcass of the wolf land a few feet away from the head. He kicked the head away and then something odd happened. The wolf’s head and body disappeared. What was happening?
Cro watched the rest of the pack circle around him and howl. He found this to be very bad, really bad. He didn't take kindly to being attacked. He watched the other wolves lunge at him. He spun around with his sword and killed the rest of the pack with one mighty swing. He watched the bodies hit the ground and listened for the ‘thud’ of flesh hitting the earth. He looked at the bloody carcasses and the wolves’ bodies vanished like the first. Now that was strange, he thought. He grabbed a cloth out of his satchel and wiped the blood off of his sword. He turned to Bella.
“Are you alright?” Cro asked as he put his sword back in its sheath.
“Yes.” Bella said, she tried to stand up but her legs wobbled and she fell back down to the ground.
Cro walked over to the girl and helped her back to her feet. As curious as he was about the wolf attack, he needed to get on with his quest. He had no time for questions. What was he going to do with this girl though? He couldn't just leave her here. In case the wolves came back for her. Their disappearance unsettled Cro greatly. He frowned deeply at the young woman. Ugh, he wasn't a hero and he didn't care about people. Still, he was a warrior, sworn to protect, and this woman definitely needed protecting.
* * * *
Cro may have defeated the wolves surrounding young Bella, but that it didn't mean anything had been settled or anything was over. Nearby, another pack watched both Cro and the girl. It was time for the pack to return to the forest and to their king. They had news that the king wouldn't like. The pack vanished off into the night, into the forests of Gastonia. They were simply soldiers that was all they were. They were expendable and they all knew that, but they did the king's bidding. It was the same in any kingdom.
When they were deep enough into the forest and away from the humans, the wolves reverted to another form, a more human form. Their wolf ears and tails remained but their bodies assumed human shape. Clothing made of fur covered their bodies, and their hands and feet resembled a wolf’s feet and claws. Only a few returned to their king, and they knew they faced punishment for not bringing the princess back with them. The king would send another pack out but he was never happy when something didn't go his way. They knew how important getting the princess back was and would submit to their punishment willingly.
The pack made its way through the forest until they came to clearing. It was a makeshift camp with tents and a central fire. A female pack member stirred a black cauldron over the fire. Some of the packs had not came back. They probably had fallen in battle.
The returning wolves wanted to stay out of sight until the king was in a good mood. It was going to be a very long night. They approached the female and she even smiled at them. Whatever the woman was cooking, it smelled really good.
The pack was family. Jake and Eddie were the two pack members that had just returned. They walked away from the woman who was cooking and found a log to sit down on. They could hear the king talking loudly in his tent. They cocked their heads towards the tent. They knew it would be their time very soon. The woman had brought both of them a bowl of piping hot soup. She smiled and walked away from them and went back to stirring the cauldron.
The girl’s name was Isabella Wolfsbane, she told Cro. She was the princess of The Wolfsbane Tribe. She had run away, because she didn't like the life anymore and just wanted to be normal. She knew she would never be normal, whenever there was a full moon she would turn into a beast. She thought running away here would help her, it didn't.
“Why did you help me?” Isabella asked as she turned to face the man. She had never seen such kindness.
“It looked like they were going to kill you, I had to jump in!” Cro answered.
Isabella's red cloak had fallen off her shoulders when the pack had surrounded her. She knelt down, picked it up and put it back on. She wanted to get as far away from this place as she could. She looked over at the man. She knew what was going to happen. The pack was going to come after him next. They probably already had his scent. She hadn't ever seen someone like him before, who could defeat a pack of werewolves so easily. The truth was that man didn't know they were werewolves. He probably just thought they were wolves trying to kill her.
“You eat lately?” Cro asked her.
He motioned for her to follow him and he led her into the inn and up to where he was sleeping. He sat down on the edge of his bed and grabbed his satchel. He pulled out a handful of jerky. He had grabbed it back in Florin and he handed a few strips to the girl.
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” she asked as they munched on the jerky.
“Been in a lot of fights,” Cro said in between bites of jerky. “Only way to survive in these parts, you know.”
“You never told me your name,” Bella said timidly.
The quest for the sword would have to come to a halt for now. He couldn't have this girl getting killed by whatever was after her. He wasn't a hero but he couldn't let someone get hurt. It wasn't who he was. He heard a door slam downstairs. He drew his sword and looked over towards Isabella.
“Stay here,” Cro said, as he walked over to the door and opened it up. He slowly walked down the stairs with his weapon drawn. He looked around the lobby but saw no one. A second later somebody swung a sword at him. He brought his own sword up in time in time to block the other blade.
“Where is Isabella?” the figure asked as it swung its sword again.
“Like I'd tell you,” Cro said. He dodged another blow and kicked the figure in the stomach. It sent the figure back a few feet. It got slammed into a table and a few wooden chairs. He watched the figure fumble to get up. He walked over to it and kicked it in the stomach again. It fell to the ground and he pulled back its hood and held his sword at its throat. His eyes went wide.
It was a woman.
“Cro! Stop!” Isabella yelled as she ran down the stairs.
“Don't hurt her!!” She screamed as she rushed over to the woman. She lay on top of her and pushed Cro's blade away from the woman's throat. She looked up at him and gave Cro a grave look.
“Snow White, this is Cro. Cro, meet Snow White,” Isabella said, motioning to each of them.
“Such a charming man.” Snow said sarcastically.
“Wonderful,” Cro said, as he sheathed his sword and extended his hand to Snow White. She reluctantly took his hand and he helped her up off of the ground. Cro walked away from the women. He needed to wrap his head around what had happened recently.
“Okay, first it’s wolves, Isabella, and now Snow White?” Cro said, shaking his head. “What’s going to happen next?”
“Did you say wolves?” Snow White asked as she walked over to Cro.
“Yes, a pack of about ten. They had the girl surrounded,” Cro said.
“Oh, you’re marked for death now,” Snow White said, her eyes wide.
“Marked for death?”
“Those were the King's soldiers,” Snow White answered. “They were sent to retrieve Isabella.”
“Why?” Cro asked.
“I'm the wolf tribe's princess,” Isabella said quietly, looking at the floor.
“Great,” Cro said, shaking his head.
With all this information, he wasn't sure what he was going to do. He could move on from this point. The wolves would just find him anyways. Maybe he should just have them come to him and he would cut them down. He needed a stiff drink.
A storm was coming his way and only because he saved a girl. He walked out of the inn and he looked around. It was getting dark. Maybe he should depart on his quest. Great, he couldn't find his horse. It probably got loose and ran off. It looked like they were walking to Mirstone. The women were not going to like that. He walked back inside the inn and found them still talking in the lobby.
“Bad news, my horse ran away and I need to get to Mirstone,” Cro said.
“Mirstone?” Both women asked at the same time.
“Yes, it's about fifty miles northwest of here. I need to get there.” He took out the map and laid it down on one of the tables in the inn. He looked up at the women.
“I'm on a quest.”
“What kind of quest?” Snow White asked as she walked over to look at the map.
“Immortalus.” Cro said. He looked down at the map and his finger landed on the area named Cakulst Caves.
“I need to get there,” Cro added, he looked up at Snow White.
“Immortalus is just a legend and The Cakulst Caves are on the other side of the Forbidden Lands,” Snow White said. “No one has ever came back alive from The Forbidden Lands.”
“I'm not just anyone though, Snow,” Cro said, as he grinned and rolled up the map and put it back in satchel. They needed to move fast, he didn't want to be on the end of a bunch of pissed off werewolves.
Danzivar had the desire and the will to win the fight. He attacked the Imp once more. It wasn't working. The Imp raised his hand and blocked Danzivar's attacks and threw him back towards Danzivar's horse. The Imp walked towards Danzivar. He had a grin on his face as he knelt down next to Danzivar.
“If you want to beat me and leave this forest alive, you’re going to need to try harder than that,” the Imp said. He grinned and let out a laugh. He vanished in a puff of black smoke and appeared a few feet away from Danzivar. The Imp watched Danzivar get back to his feet.
Ezekiel was watching from the distance. This was Danzivar's fight and his friend would not welcome his interference. If he were needed, Ezekiel would step in. He had faith in his old friend.
Danzivar growled and rushed in and attacked the imp once again. He aimed a flurry of sword attacks at the Imp, but the creature dodged every attack Danzivar threw at him. Danzivar jumped back and mustered up some of his magic. He formed a fireball in his right hand and threw it at the Imp. The Imp had formed his own fireball and threw it at Danzivar's fireball and the attacks cancelled each other out. They were at a stand still.
“It looks like you’re not as weak as I once thought,” the Imp said, still grinning from ear to ear. He conjured up a powerful spell in his right hand, conjuring a ball of energy and out of that ball came multiple bolts of lightning.
“Strength doesn't mean anything if you can't defend yourself,” the Imp added, as he took the ball and threw it at Danzivar.
“I summon thee, Ryujin,” Danzivar shouted. He held out his hand and watched the ball come closer to him. It was destroying everything around him. Almost instantly, his sword appeared in his right hand. The hilt of the sword had the head of a dragon. He swung the sword as the energy ball came towards him. The sword cut the ball of energy in half, causing it to explode. Danzivar shielded himself so he wouldn't get hurt.
What an interesting fellow that Imp was, Danzivar thought. He never knew someone could be so powerful. A few moments later the sword disappeared from Danzivar's hand.
All of them were ready to leave. Cro was the most anxious to get out of the area. He didn't really want to deal with those wolves right now. He took all the stuff he needed for the journey and walked out of the inn. He walked around the town for a moment or two, trying to find his horse or even someone else’s horse. The two women had followed him. Eventually, he gave up on finding a horse. It was going to be a long hike. He really hated travelling by foot.
“So why are you really going on this quest?” Snow asked Cro as she caught up to him.
“What do you mean?” Cro asked as he turned to look at her.
“There has to be a reason why you want the sword,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Someone bested me in battle,” Cro ground the words through clamped teeth. “This defeat can not stand. When I get the sword, I'll kill him.”
He knew that wasn't the answer she was looking for. It was the truth though. Also he didn't want that sword in the wrong hands. The truth was that he didn't really trust anyone. Yet, he didn't want anything to happen to these two women, which was an odd circumstance for Cro. He didn't know why he wanted to protect them. They would all have to leave soon.
His sword was sheathed at his side. The fight with Pyrallis had it played back in his mind so many times. How could he have been beaten? He needed that sword. He needed to beat Pyrallis! He couldn't be distracted on this quest. Immortalus was the only thing that was important to him right now.
He wasn't trying to make friends and he didn't really need allies. Yet something inside of him made him want to protect both of these women. He must be going soft; being around women did that to you.
Eventually, the odd trio left the town of Gastonia and started towards the town of Mirstone. It was dangerous in Mirstone, Cro knew. He had heard the tales of people venturing into Mirstone's mountains and never coming out alive. Between Gastonia and Mirstone was The Dark Forest and no one ever left that forest alive. He ruthlessly pushed these thoughts out of his mind. He needed to stay positive.
They walked for most of the day, Cro leading because he had the map. He knew once night fell they wouldn't be safe. He looked at the map. Tight before they got to the Dark Forest there should be a small village. They probably could rest there. He looked behind him and saw Isabella and Snow White talking. They looked happy for a brief moment. Cro grunted. He knew that happiness would be cut away eventually, once her people found Isabella. He let the women have their moment of happiness.
For a moment he thought he heard something in the distance. He listened intently, but heard no more. He shook his head and shrugged it off. He drew his sword just in case. Trees surrounded them on all sides and something hiding in them. He looked around, keeping watch for bandits that liked to ambush travelers. He heard a sound again, a grunt this time. Where the hell was it coming from? Was it someone behind one of the many trees? He watched something run behind one tree to the other. He guessed drawing his sword hadn't been such a hasty decision.
Four goblins had jumped out from behind the trees. They had various weapons, one had a club, one had a sword, and two were armed with bow and arrows. The goblins were all aiming at Cro. Snow White and Isabella were a few feet behind Cro but they noticed he had stopped walking and had his sword drawn. They both gasped when they saw the goblins. They were nasty little fuckers and they’d rip you limb-from-limb if they were given the chance.
“You’re trespassing in our woods, human,” one of the goblins hissed.
“What ya doin' here?” One of the other goblins asked.
“On my way to Mirstone.” Cro answered the goblin.
“Ah, interesting. Not that you will leave our woods alive,” another goblin taunted.
“We will see about that.” Cro growled.
“Don't!” Snow White said. She put her hand on Cro's shoulder. “There has to be another way to Mirstone.”
“You have to be kidding me, Snow. They are in the way!” Cro growled.
“We did kind of trespass though,” Snow White said.
“That's impossible. This is the forest, there is no way that this is their land!” Cro said.
This woman didn't know who she was traveling with, Cro thought. He was going to continue on his journey. He wasn't going to let a bunch of lowly goblins stand in his way. He stepped in front of Snow White and looked at what he was up against. It wasn't going to be pretty, but they were going to move past these goblins.
“You can either stand aside and let us pass by peacefully,” Cro said to the goblins.
“Or?” one of the goblins asked.
“Things could get a bit messy,” Cro said, grinning.
He wasn't the type of person to start fights, but he was a warrior after all. It didn't look like the goblins were going to let them pass. None of them were making a move. He studied all four of the goblins and he was just waiting for one of them to attack him.
“Think about what you’re about to do, Cro,” Snow White whispered to Cro.
“You sound a bit concerned, Snow,” Cro whispered back, a smirk on his face. “Don't be.”
Cro charged into battle against the four goblins. He attacked them without hesitation. The goblins had no time to attack before their bodies fell to the ground. He had stabbed every one of them. The green blood dripped off of his sword as he looked at the dead bodies at his feet. He kicked the goblin corpses of out of the way.
He took a rag out of his satchel and wiped the blood off of his sword. He looked at Snow White, who had moved a few feet away from him. She had not moved. Was she frozen? He walked to her. They needed to get a move on before more of those goblins showed up.
“Come on, we got to get a move on,” Cro said. He looked at Snow and sheathed his sword.
“How could you?” Snow asked as she looked at Cro. “We could have found another way!”
She turned her back to Cro.
What could make somebody so ruthless? What had happened to him? She turned her head to look at him and instantly turned away again.
“They were in my way. If I hadn't disposed of them they would have killed us all!” Cro said.
“You don't know that!” Snow said as she spun around to look at him.
“I wasn't ready to find out if I was wrong, so I did what needed to be done,” Cro said. He turned around and walked away.
Crows, ravens and vultures had started to circle around the remains of the goblins. The birds landed on the corpses and began to pick at them, tearing the light green skin off of and eating it. A very tasty meal indeed. The flesh of a goblin was thick and rough, it took a while to chew and digest. The birds continued to pick at the bodies. As the birds did this, Snow White walked after Cro with Isabella. Snow averted her eyes from the sight of the dead goblins. It was going to be a long journey, Snow could feel that.
She was still trying to process what had just happened. She had been forced to kill before, but it was in self-defense or to protect someone she cared about. Wait, was that why Cro did it? Did he care for her? That couldn't be it. Snow White and Isabella followed about twenty feet behind Cro. Snow watched Cro look back at her and then turn his attention what was in front of him. She had never thought that he was trying to protect her. She just assumed he was being a ruthless bastard. She wasn't going to think about it anymore. She saw Isabella look at her with a worried expression on her face. Snow just smiled and put her hand on Isabella's shoulder. That is the way she showed her friend that she was all right. She didn't want Isabella to worry about her. They had to push on.
Cro had not been paying attention to the women walking behind of him. He had other things on his mind. If those wolves could hunt by scent, they already had his scent and would be on them in no time. They needed to get out of the forest as fast as they could. About twenty more miles and they were going to hit that small town before they ventured into The Dark Forest. The place wasn't called the Dark Forest for nothing. Besides the dense vegetation blocking out the sun, it was rumored to inhabit users of dark magic. The whole forest was supposed to hold dark magic.
He had no choice but to kill those goblins. If he hadn't killed them, they would have killed him and the two women. They were not creatures to take lightly. The best policy was to kill them before they killed you. It was the way it was out here. He pulled the map out of his satchel once again and he looked down at it.
Something was making noises in the woods. He thought he saw a few more shadows dancing behind the trees. The last time he saw shadows it was the goblins. Maybe this time it was just animals. He was going to tell himself that. He continued to walk on and paid no mind to things he was hearing in the woods. He really hated these long journeys, they gave him too much time to think.
They pushed farther into the woods. The two women were talking among themselves. He was going to have to find a way to protect them without coming across as an asshole. He knew that Snow was going to hold what he did back there against him. He was just trying to save them. They didn't get it.
He wondered what he would do if stronger goblins came and wanted to seek revenge against him? That would put the two women in trouble.
The man they were travelling with was so stubborn, and she couldn't stand stubborn men. He would probably get his ass killed during a fight or something. She didn't want to think about death or anything now. She looked over towards Isabella. She had been protecting Isabella since the day they meet. They both had been on the run from something and they bumped into each other, literally. Ever since that day they had been friends. She saw Isabella as a little sister. It had been nice to have someone to protect and share her time with.
“You ever find him?” Isabella asked. She looked at Snow with a hopeful expression on her face.
“Who?” Snow asked.
“You've forgotten already?” Isabella asked, she slapped her forehead softly and shook her head.
“Your prince,” Isabella said in a low voice.
“No, I haven't found him yet,” Snow said, smiling.
That was a topic that she didn't want discussed right now. Love wasn't in her cards right now. She didn't know if love was ever going to be in the cards for her. She had been battling so much in her life right now, being on the run from Queen Vexona and her regime. She knew the queen was evil, but she didn't treat her subjects like that. It was a regime that Snow wanted to topple. It would happen, she just didn't know when. Snow was a very determined woman and always found away to overcome the odds.
It was starting to get darker. They would probably have to stop and make camp soon. Maybe she should go mention that to Cro. Would he listen to her? There was only one way to find out. She swallowed and started to walk up to Cro. For a minute she thought she heard something, a whisper of sorts. She shrugged her shoulders. It must have been the wind. Isabella followed closely behind Snow. She heard the noise again; it sounded like whisper. She shook her head. It was time to get the cobwebs out of her head and her mind on something else. Her mind was playing tricks on her right now.
Snow approached Cro and when she did he stopped walking.
“Hold on,” Cro said. They all stood still as Cro listened.
“Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Snow asked.
“The whispers,” Cro answered.
“I did a few times, but I thought it was the wind,” Snow said.
“I don't think we are alone out here.” Cro said.
The woods were a very dangerous place, especially if you didn't know where you were going or didn't know about the creatures that lived in the area. He had heard stories about creatures in the woods when he was a child, but he didn't believe the stories. He thought they were just stories to scare children.
He could feel the presence of something else in the woods with them. His warrior training made him alert to the slightest noises. He didn't want to stop. They would be sitting ducks for whatever was out there. He looked back at Snow and Isabella.
“We've got to move on. Whatever is out there will prey on us if we stay still,” Cro said.
They pushed on for the rest of the day. It didn't take them very long to find the little village to rest at. They all could use some rest and he was getting a bit hungry. He had had no chance to hunt for meat in the forest he didn't really see many animals there. The village was small, but it had a butcher shop, an inn and a bar. It was one of those villages that people stopped in to rest when they were on a long journey.
Snow and Isabella went to the inn to check all three of them in. They booked two rooms, one room had a double bed and the other room had a single bed. It was the last two rooms in the inn. Isabella took the single bed and that meant Snow and Cro had to take the double bed. Snow and Cro in the same bed; that wasn't going to turn out well. Snow settled down into her room and Isabella did the same thing.
While the women went to the inn, Cro had found his way to the bar. He wasn't getting drinks. He was having the cook fix them something to eat. It didn't take the cook much time to whip them up something. Cro put the gold and silver on the bar and took all the cooked food in his arms. He made his way over to the inn and he asked the innkeeper where the rooms were. The innkeeper explained it to Cro and directed him to where the two women were staying at the Inn. He nodded and thanked the innkeeper and walked up the stairs. He knocked on Snow's door and she opened the door. Gladly there was a large table and he set all the food down. The food was mostly burgers and fries, the only thing a bar cook can cook up fast at short notice.
Cro walked over to the room next to Snow's and knocked on the door.
“Come on, kid. Food,” Cro said. Isabella's door was cracked a bit. He pushed the door open and saw that the girl was sleeping on the bed. She was wrapped up in her red hood. She looked sweet, but he wanted to wake her up and force her to eat. He would wait on that. It had been a long day for all of them.
Cro walked back to Snow's room and saw her sitting on the edge of the bed munching on something.
“Where is Isabella?” Snow asked.
“Sleeping.” Cro answered. “I didn't wake her. She looked too peaceful.”
Cro walked over to the table that held all the food, he munched on his burger and a few fries. He looked over at Snow. He had heard the stories of Snow White. She was rumored to be a warrior princess. He’d heard the stories, but not really believed them.
The stories you hear as a kid, you think they are all just stories. They have to have some truth to them, right? Like folklore, where it’s not all true but there is some truth to it. That is what he took the tale of Snow White to be, just another story. He finished his burger and fries quickly. He looked over to Snow White, who was still picking at her food. He walked over to where she was sitting and stood there and looked at her.
“So what's the deal with you and the girl?” Cro.
“Isabella? I've known her a long time. I'm kind of a big sister to her.”
“What does the pack want with her?”
“She's their princess. They need her to lead them when the king dies and he will die. The king of the pack always dies and is always the strongest wolf out of them all. “ Snow answered.
“Why doesn’t she want to lead her pack?”
“She is a free spirit,” Snow said with a smile. “The life she lives with the wolves is hard for young woman.”
After killing the wolves earlier, Cro knew he was marked for death by the king. He just wanted as much information on this pack as he could get. He hated going into a fight blind. He had to keep looking over his shoulder and he hated doing that. He couldn't let Isabella be taken back to the pack against her will, though. His honor wouldn’t allow it.
“You saved her,” Snow said. She stood up and walked close enough to place her hand on his shoulder. “There is good in you, I know it. Yet, I look into your eyes and all I see is conflict and darkness.”
She pressed her lips together, thinking about what she should say next. She knew this was going to be a tough man to figure out.
“You don't want to pick my brain, princess,” Cro said as he looked into Snow's eyes.
The mood had changed very drastically. In a way Snow was trying to reach out to Cro. She was trying to make him see the light inside of him. Maybe it wasn't time for him to see this light. Maybe he needed to venture into the darkness to see the light. The inn wasn't very busy but she could hear a few footsteps in the hallway. They had to be the other people that were staying there. It was no reason to be alarmed.
She didn't say anything to Cro, but on the way here she had seen her face on a few wanted posters. She had thought about telling Cro about it, but did he really need to know that? Maybe not right now. It seemed like he was too focused on the task at hand, on getting them safely to Mirstone. It would be nightfall soon and they all needed to get some sleep. She was watching Cro look around the room.
“Please tell me there is another bed somewhere, Snow,” Cro said. He glared at her.
“No, there isn't,” Snow said, shaking her head. She wasn't excited about the sleeping arrangement either. She didn't know how this was going to work out.
They looked at each other, each feeling unsure of what to do. It was such a unique situation. Two people who didn't really get along and they had to share a bed for a night. Cro walked over to one of the closets and opened it up. He was looking for one extra blanket. He was just going to divide the bed. The princess would have her side and he would have his side. Oddly, closet was empty. Scratch that idea, he thought glumly.
“I'll be back later, Princess,” Cro said. He walked over towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Snow asked.
“To think,” Cro answered, with a growl in his voice. He twisted the doorknob and left the room.
Snow watched him leave and she sat down on the end of the bed, staring at the closed door. Where could he be going at this hour? It was going to be night soon. She scoffed to herself. Men could be so stubborn. She knew Cro had to be going to the bar. That is where men tend to go and 'think.' She fell backwards onto the bed. She was laying in the middle of the bed looking up at the ceiling. She closed her eyes and slowly drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
Little did she know, her wanted posters were plastered all around the small village. The wanted posters had made Snow's life a living hell, calling her “The Bandit Princess.”
Cro walked the streets of the small village for a little while. No one in the village looked friendly and he assumed they didn't like outsiders. Many of them had scowls on their faces. He ignored them for the most part. He found the bar where he had ordered the food from and he entered it. The bar was pretty much empty, except for an older man sitting behind the bar, obviously the bartender.
He looked like a former warrior. The man had long white hair and a scar over his left eye. It looked like the man was dozing a bit. He waited for a few more people to come in, but no one entered. That was kind of strange but he was done waiting. He crossed his arms and finally took a seat at the bar. He cleared his throat and the old man came to life.
“A customer!” The old man said with enthusiasm.
“Yes.” Cro said, as he put a few gold pieces and silver pieces down on the bar. “Mead.”
“Right!” the old man said. He dove behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of mead for Cro.
Cro had never seen a bar this dead, and he wondered why the villagers had deserted it. He didn't really want to ask the bartender for gossip. He sipped on his mead, then he took a few drinks and the glass was empty. His curiosity was killing him; he really wanted to know where all the regular customers were. It was busy just a little while ago.
Curiosity killed the cat, but he wasn't a cat. He watched a few people come in, and a few of them wore heavy armor. Looked like they worked for a king or queen. He thought this village didn't have a king or queen, so that was odd. Maybe they were from another kingdom. He watched a few of them talk to the bartender and the bartender pointed to a picture on the wall.
“What was that all about?” Cro asked as he looked at the bartender.
“Some of the king's men from another land is looking for the Bandit Princess,” the bartender explained.
“Who?” Cro asked.
“Her.” The Bartender walked over to the wall and pulled a picture off the wall. He put it in front of Cro.
Cro's eyes went wide when he saw who it was. He knew there was something strange about that woman. There was no way any of those men would know where they were staying. She'd be safe for now, he thought. Then he looked and saw more heavily armored men going towards the Inn.
“Woman, I knew you'd be trouble,” Cro muttered to himself, he got up out of his seat and ran out the door. He watched them run towards the Inn, and knew he had to get there first. He ran as fast as he could and reached the inn first.
That woman better be worth this. This wasn't really his fight, but he didn't want to see her die. Something inside of him told him that if these soldiers got their hands on Snow she'd be killed.
How many times has he been in a situation like this? He's never had to fight knights before, but he was a warrior and they die like every other man, right? He pulled his sword from his sheath and put distance between himself and the knights. You know what this would mean for him? If he got caught fighting these assholes, he'd be in some deep shit. He needed to seriously think this through.
“Stand aside,” one of the knights ordered.
“If I don't?” Cro sneered.
“We will have to kill you,” another knight said, with no emotion showing on his hard face.
There were a lot of knights and only one of him. This could end very badly for Cro. He knew this, but he couldn't just let them cart of Snow White like she was some god damned prize. Against his better judgment, he was going to fight them. That woman better be worth this, his blood and his scars. Bodies would litter the streets, because this time he wasn't going to hold back like before.
One of the knights charged in after Cro. Without much effort Cro jumped behind the knight. He grabbed the knight’s head and snapped his neck. The knight dropped like a sack of potatoes. What was his crime going to be? Treason? Aiding a fugitive?
It was always a woman that got him into these messes, he thought glumly. It might be his stubborn attitude, too. All he knew is that he had more knights to go through and it wasn't going to be easy.
If they didn't have any wizards on their side, he wouldn't have any problem with them. He was weak against magic. That is why he lost against Pyrallis. He was simply known as Cro of Bathum. He had a last name but he never used it and very few people knew his last name. He stared down one of the bigger knights who held his sword tightly. Cro could see the blood lust in the knight’s eyes. This knight wanted him dead.
A sly smirk formed on Cro's lips. Knights were so used to victory, it made him laugh. Obviously, this one had not yet faced a warrior like Cro. The thing about warriors was that they were headstrong and would do whatever it took to win.